I have a very specific type of middle grade story that I like to read. It’s the fantastical adventure type. I love middle grade books because they prioritize friendship over romance, and because there’s a sense of wonder in the world-building, a sense of enthusiasm and fun that I think sometimes gets glossed over in young adult in favor of angst and identity issues (which are good to read too! But if you’re in a different sort of mood…).
So the four MG stories that I have today probably should have a lot of crossover & a mutual fanbase. If you’re interested in one, you might be interested in the other. Three of these books, I’ve talked about previously in terms of my excitement (and you can probably read better synopses of them from me there!). I’ve neglected these books because I’ve been busy, but my excitement is still high! And the other I recently received. Where three are publishing or have been published this summer, Enter a Glossy Web is publishing in September. So, get excited with me for these middle grade fantastical adventures!
- Enter a Glossy Web - McKenna Ruebush (RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2016)
Twelve-year-old George has no idea what to expect when she’s sent to stay with eccentric relatives following the disappearance of her brother. Soon after her arrival, she learns that Uncle Constantine has been kidnapped. George sets off to recover him and is joined by two orphaned boys along the way and Cavendish, a talking map. Together they visit magical worlds full of monsters, witches, and dragons as they attempt to find Constantine--the Timekeeper--a man of great significance. If he’s not rescued, events will cease to happen at their designated times, disrupting the unfolding of the universe. Can this ragtag crew save the future before being outwitted by evil captors?
- The Voyage to the Magical North - Claire Fayers (RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2016)
Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.
When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.
- The Wrong Side of Magic - Janette Rallison (RELEASE DATE: August 23, 2016)
The Phantom Tollbooth gets a modern-day spin in this magical middle grade fantasy filled with adventure and humor that will whisk readers away!
Hudson Brown stopped believing in magic long ago. That is, until the day he is whisked away to the magical land of Logos by a curious compass given to him by his off-beat neighbor, Charlotte.
Hudson discovers that Logos is a land ruled by words, thoughts, and memories. A fairy might ferry you across the river for the price of one memory. But be sure to look out for snarky unicorns, as they will see through those who are not pure of heart.
Not understanding the many rules of Logos, Hudson is quickly saddled with a troll curse. Charlotte, who, along with her father, was banished from Logos, can help get rid of the curse--but only if he agrees to find the lost Princess of Logos in return.
- The Treasures of Maria Mamoun - Michelle Chalfoun (RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2016)
Twelve-year-old Maria lives a lonely, latchkey-kid's life in the Bronx. Her Lebanese mother is working two nursing jobs to keep them afloat, and Maria keeps her worries to herself, not wanting to be a burden. Then something happens one day between home and school that changes everything. Mom whisks them to an altogether different world on Martha's Vineyard, where she's found a job on a seaside estate. While the mysterious bedridden owner―a former film director―keeps her mother busy, Maria has the freedom to explore a place she thought could only exist in the movies. Making friends with a troublesome local character, Maria finds an old sailboat that could make a marvelous clubhouse. She also stumbles upon an old map that she is sure will lead to pirate's plunder―but golden treasure may not be the most valuable thing she discovers for herself this special summer.
Now, all of these YA stories don’t really fit a mold in the way that my pick of middle grade books do. A Darkly Beating Heart is “a time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.” I’ve enjoyed Lindsay Smith’s previous fantastical political thrillers, so I expect to enjoy ADBH as well. The Graces: “This fabulously addictive fantasy combines sophisticated and haunting prose with a gut-punching twist that readers will be dying to discuss. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars as well as nostalgic classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 1996 movie The Craft, The Graces marks the beginning of a new wave of teen witches.” That description – the idea of dark witchcraft among teens who are at the top of the school’s hierarchy – reminded me of The Secret Circle (the old CW show), and mixed with a huge twist and gorgeous writing? Sign me up. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is Rosamund Hodge’s latest; I’ve loved her other two books, Cruel Beauty (Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast) and Crimson Bound (The Maiden with No Hands (title might be slightly off) meets Little Red Riding Hood). I’ve loved all her short stories, and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire was pitched as Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet, so yes please! Labyrinth Lost sounded like dark urban fantasy with brujas, a cultural exploration I haven’t really read, and reminded me of Shadowshaper, which I started to read and really enjoy. I’m all for dark fantasy tales, and now look at all those blurbs! Daniel Older, who I just referred to; Cindy Pon; Danielle Paige; Melissa Grey; Amy Tintera. Lots of praise to go around, and I can’t wait to be among that crowd as well.
- A Darkly Beating Heart - Lindsay Smith (RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2016)
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.
- The Graces - Laure Eve (RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2016)
In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.
- Bright Smoke, Cold Fire - Rosamund Hodge (RELEASE DATE: September 27, 2016)
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . .
- Labyrinth Lost - Zoraida Cordova (RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2016)
Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic."-Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...
Praise for Labyrinth Lost:
"Zoraida Cordova's prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic." -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight
"Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine's journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family." -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix
"A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante's Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary." -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper
"Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish." -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.